One of my favorite sneaker stores is Tony’s Sports in Chicago. It was a great spot to get feedback on new AND 1 product and over the years of heading to 1321 Milwaukee Ave. and spending time with the staff, I noticed that they focused on delivering the most compelling try on experience in the industry. They did not push the sale of any one item.
When you picked up a shoe at Tony’s, a sales guys would give an approving nod and mention the story of the shoe, the design, the athlete or artist endorsing the product. When you asked to try it on, he would head to the back, and not only bring your size in that shoe, but also an arm-full of matching shirts and other gear. During your try-on session, a couple other pairs of shoes that you didn’t ask for, but that the staff thought you should try would show up in your size.
This process would repeat trip after trip and I always walked out with more than I needed and less than I wanted. Finally, Tony let me in on his secret:
If they smile when they try, they WILL buy.
At First Round we have e-commerce in our blood and have been active investors in the space. We continue to look for the next wave in e-commerce innovation and hope some of the companies we partner with will play a role in changing the current e-commerce landscape . When we had the opportunity to meet the team from Birchbox their vision resonated with our experience and view of the opportunity in the e-commerce space.
As they described the Birchbox service I could hear Tony in the back of my head,
If they smile when they try, they will buy.
A subscription to Birchbox elevates product discovery and brand experience to the top of the consumer purchase decision process. For $10 a month Birchbox members discover and experience premium beauty products in the form of specially selected deluxe samples delivered to their door. The monthly discovery package is accompanied by a fully integrated editorial and e-commerce platform offering instructional videos, news about the products and the opportunity to buy full size versions of the products that you try and then fall in love with.
Just like the “previum” model in the digital world, one of the most powerful ways to motivate purchase and long-term consumer loyalty in the physical goods space is to deliver a full product or brand experience. When this process includes new product discovery and unique items that surprise and delight the customer, and includes expert advice on the best use of the product and the stories that define the brand the impact is even deeper.
This is the Birchbox vision and we are excited to help them achieve this kind of consumer impact. We are also lucky to be joined in this effort by a great syndicate including Accel, Harrison Metal, Lerer Ventures, Gary Vaynerchuk and Consigliere.